From the upbeat mood of The Big Bang Theory writers at this morning’s Comic-Con panel for the series, you wouldn’t think that there was an intense cast negotiation going on, potentially delaying production of the show. All signals transmitted to fans in Ballroom 20 today are that Big Bang is moving forward. A Warner Bros TV rep told the crowd that the show is returning September 22 with a full-hour premiere, as CBS has planned. “I’ve thought about how I want the show to end, but I’m not going to say right now,” said executive producer Steve Molaro. He also mentioned to another fan that he doesn’t know when they’ll reveal Penny’s last name; it might be when she marries Leonard. However, the Comic-Con hall monitors, who typically let most questions through to the panel, were definitely on guard. When a Deadline reporter tried to ask Bill Prady and Molaro a question about the cast negotiation, the monitor exclaimed, “We can’t let you ask about that — it’s a legal question.”
On the eve of Comic-Con, where The Big Bang Theory has always been a top draw, the uncertainty surrounding the production of the mega-hit CBS comedy’s eighth season intensifies. With only one week left until the actors on the Warner Bros TV-produced show are scheduled to convene for the first table read of Season 8 on July 30, none of the Big Bang original cast members are close to new deals. The contracts of Jim Parsons, Johnny Galecki, Kaley Cuoco, Simon Helberg and Kunal Nayyar all expired at the end of last season, and no one would go to work without a contract in place. Modern Family co-creator/co-showrunner Christopher Lloyd was in a similar position recently and sat out the first week of work in the writers room until his reps reached a new deal with producer 20th Century Fox TV. In both cases, talks between the studio and talent started pretty late, leading to the missed deadline.
While the Modern Family writers proceeded without Lloyd, with fellow co-creator/co-showrunner Steve Levitan at the helm, keeping up production on Big Bang with only the two cast members who have contracts — Melissa Rauch and Mayim Bialik — would be impossible.
With only two weeks until The Big Bang Theory is slated to go back into production, the entire original cast, Jim Parsons, Johnny Galecki, Kaley Cuoco, Simon Helberg and Kunal Nayyar, have no contracts and are not close to signing one. But CBS Entertainment chairman is not worried. “We’re feeling very confident that everything will work out,” she said. “These deals always get miraculously done.”
Flagship CBS comedy series The Big Bang Theory is slated to go into production on its upcoming eighth season on July 30. But with only two weeks to go, the entire original cast of the hit comedy is still without contracts. I hear the two sides are still far apart and there has been little dialogue.
The situation resembles the 2010 salary renegotiations when Jim Parsons, Johnny Galecki, Kaley Cuoco, Simon Helberg and Kunal Nayyar too faced the start of production in the midst of talks with producing studio Warner Bros. TV. The difference is that back then, they had existing contracts and were obligated to show up for work, which they did while their teams were negotiating big pay bumps behind the scenes. This time around, none of the five have deals in place as their contracts on the show expired at the end of last season. Big Bang‘s newest cast members, Melissa Rauch and Mayim Bialik, who renegotiated their contracts last fall with substantial salary increases, are the only actors currently under contracts.
That means that, if new deals with the Original Five are not reached in the next two weeks, production on Season 8 may be pushed. I hear that even if Big Bang doesn’t start start production until after Labor Day, it still is expected to be able to deliver an hourlong season premiere for September 22 but insiders do not think things would go that far. (Big Bang‘s 2010 salary renegotiations didn’t wrap until September.) Warner Bros. TV is known for going down to the wire but being able to close big cast deals on time, including multiple negotiations on Two And A Half Men.
CBS will kick off its new NFL Thursday football franchise September 11 and roll out its Thursday entertainment lineup October 30. It’s part of the net’s “multi-phase rollout” for its new season announced today. In between those two Thursdays: the network’s Sunday slate will unveil the night before the official start of the TV season — traditionally Primetime Emmy Awards Sunday, except when it’s NBC’s turn to broadcast the trophy show, including this year, when the ceremony gets bumped to steer clear of NBC’s NFL commitments. Also, Premiere Week will open with a one-hour The Big Bang Theory leading in to the premiere of new series Scorpion on that first Monday of the season. NCIS: Los Angeles will move to its new Monday time period the following week, joining launches of new drama Stalker and returning Criminal Minds during the season’s second week.
“The addition of Thursday Night Football provides the flexibility to strategically roll out our fall season in multiple waves, maximizing promotional platforms and scheduling opportunities to give our new and returning series the best possible launch,” CBS Entertainment chairman Nina Tassler said in today’s announcement. Here’s CBS’s primetime rollout schedule:
For Jim Parsons, taking part in Ryan Murphy’s HBO adaptation of Larry Kramer’s Tony-winning play, The Normal Heart, was a no-brainer. Parsons could’ve gone on collecting Emmys for his superlative work on The Big Bang Theory—he has three so far for outstanding lead comedy actor. And he had already played acid-tongued AIDS activist Tommy Boatwright on Broadway. But it was important to him that he reprise the role for the telefilm. Here, Parsons reveals the confusion that followed his first meeting with Murphy, his reaction to his new scenes and the significance that his first Emmy nomination for a dramatic role would hold.
AWARDSLINE: How did you get involved with this project?
PARSONS: I’m pretty sure Ryan saw (me in) the stage production. But I have to admit, I’m not exactly sure whether he had the idea to approach me, or if jointly with Larry he had the idea to use me, or, if completely pushed by Larry, he had the idea to use me.
AWARDSLINE: I actually spoke to Ryan and he said Larry pushed to have you play this role.
PARSONS: That does not shock me. I was very fortunate with my experience doing the play with Larry. He was around a lot, (and) he happened to really like what I was doing. He was always a big, big supporter.
History could be made at this year’s Emmys. Should Modern Family win the best comedy series award, it would tie the record set by Frasier in the ’90s. Frasier is the only TV show—comedy or drama—to win a best series Emmy five times. Will Modern Family share the enviable title? There’s also some history being made with a call to reform the category. The brouhaha broke out when the TV Academy announced it had approved the move of Showtime’s Shameless to the best comedy arena after three years of largely unsuccessful stabs as a drama series contender.
In May 2002, NBC’s Friends was coming off its eighth season, which chronicled Rachel’s pregnancy. Whether it was the resurgence of the Rachel/Ross storyline or the nation’s yearning for laughter following the 9/11 attacks, it was one of Friends’ most successful seasons, drawing its largest audience in four years. While Friends was embraced by viewers in a big way, the popular comedy seemed causa perduta where the Emmys were concerned. For its first seven seasons, Friends only had earned three Emmys (for supporting actress Lisa Kudrow, guest actor Bruce Willis and directing). In 2001 it missed a nom in the best comedy series category, after two consecutive mentions and four overall, and recorded its fewest nominations in any season with five. But the following year, voters gave the show a second look with 11 nominations, as well as wins for best comedy series and best actress in a comedy series for Jennifer Aniston.
One day after the Television Critics Association unveiled nominees for this year’s TCA Awards, the Broadcast Television Journalists Association announced nominations for its Critics’ Choice Television Awards.
FX leads the BTJA’s noms list, with 19 – followed closely by HBO which garnered 18. Topping the list of nominated series, with five noms each, are CBS’s The Big Bang Theory and The Good Wife, FX’s Fargo, Showtime’s Masters Of Sex, and HBO’s The Normal Heart.
Walton Goggins and Allison Janney were both twice nominated. Goggins is nominated for Best Supporting Actor in a Drama Series, for Justified, and Janney is nommed for Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series, for Mom. The two also will compete against each other in the Best Guest Performer in a Drama Series category for Sons Of Anarchy and Masters Of Sex, respectively.
Bazinga! CBS and Warner Bros. Television have reached a deal for a three-year renewal of broadcast TV’s top entertainment series, The Big Bang Theory, that would keep the hit comedy on the air through the 2016-2017 season, the series’ 10th. No one is commenting, but I hear the license fee is in the $4 million-$5 million range per episode (closer to $4 million), a high number for a comedy series. This marks Big Bang‘s second consecutive three-season pickup, a commitment reserved only for the biggest shows on television. While it is the biggest deal by far, Big Bang is not the only WBTV comedy in renewal talks with CBS. I hear the network and the studio also are in discussions on the other three Chuck Lorre series, with a 13-episode final season of Two And A Half Men eyed along with renewals for next season of Mike & Molly and freshman Mom.
With the Big Bang license deal secured, WBTV and CBS will turn their attention to the cast. There had been some overtures but no real negotiations so far with original cast members Johnny Galecki, Jim Parsons, Kaley Cuoco-Sweeting, Simon Helberg and Kunal Nayyar, whose contracts are up at the end of this season. (Big Bang’s other regulars, Mayim Bialik and Melissa Rauch, closed new deals last fall.) Put on hold while license fee negotiations were going on, talks with Galecki, Parsons and Cuoco are expected to kick into gear soon. Currently at about $350,000 per episode, the three leads are projected to get to the Friends cast mark of $1 million an episode.
“We’re not going to wait until November” to kick off this fall’s new season of the sitcom, or for crime drama Elementary, CEO Les Moonves told analysts in a call to discuss Q4 earnings. “It’ll be on some other night.” And he’s unfazed by the disruption on Thursdays: The eight NFL games that CBS plans to offer will “tighten up our existing schedule” especially since the network has “a lot of O&Os in NFL markets.” Moonves’ comments confirmed the assumption that Big Bang would continue to call Thursday its permanent home and hinted that Elementary too may stay on the night (after airing originals elsewhere during the weeks NFL takes over Thursday.)
Moonves also rejected the suggestion that the male-skewing football games will make it difficult for the network to return to its female-skewing shows when the eight weeks are up. “There are still a lot of women who watch [football],” he says. “The male-female balance is not something we’re in the slightest concerned about.” CBS won the coveted deal not because of money — estimated at less than $300M — but because the league believes that the network “would do a better job” than its rivals in creating a Thursday night franchise for the NFL, …